herald

Friday 20 October 2017

'I was amazed at the white shining stones scattered around the street'

Nelson's head
Nelson's head

The memory of the destruction of Nelson's Pillar remains vivid for many Dubliners.

Hundreds of families kept fragments of the destroyed monument as souvenirs.

Taxi driver Paul Kavanagh (60) of Sutton told the Herald he remembers standing amid the rubble of the monument in March 1966 and holding a prized piece of glistening granite which he carried home from the scene.

"I was 10 and my grandmother brought me into O'Connell Street to see what had happened," Mr Kavanagh explained. "A big section of the pillar was still standing. It looked immense but the top of it was gone.

"I was amazed at all these white shining stones scattered all around the street. The pillar itself was always dark and sort of sooty and dirty grey.

Stones

"But these granite stones were white and bright with shiny speckles in them. These stones came from inside the pillar," he said.

"My grandmother picked up a little rock and gave it to me to carry home.

"She brought me into an Italian cafe and bought me an ice-cream sundae," he said.

"My father was working in England and my family was living with my grandmother in Whitehall. I remember showing the rock to my friends.

"Everyone was talking about what happened. It was huge news," he said.

Luke Kelly, legendary singer with The Dubliners, lived two doors away from Mr Kavanagh's grandmother.

The Dubliners later recorded a humorous song which included the lines "Nelson took a powder and he blew".

Mr Kavanagh said the city is all the poorer for the loss of the monument.

He believes the statue of Nelson could have been replaced to commemorate an Irish national hero.

"We used to take a number 3 bus that used to stop at the pillar.

"As a child I had hoped one day to go to the top of it but that never happened," he said.

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